THE IRISH TROUBLES: RIASSUNTO
The troubles. The period in the history of Northern Ireland which goes from 1969 to1999 is called “the troubles”.During these years 3000 people were killed and even now the Irish question is not completely solved.
Until 1640 Ireland was an independent country, then the Government of London paid money to Scottish people to go to Ireland (the so-called “plantation”), in particular in the North-Eastern part of the country, which was very fertile. As a result, there was a large flux of Scottish people in this part of Ireland, but Scottish were protestant and Irish were catholic. There were two main problems: the problem of land and the problem of religion.
In the XVII century the puritan Oliver Cromwell was responsible for a lot of massacres of catholic Irish. After Cromwell the Irish supported the catholic king James II, but the protestant king William of Orange arrived in Ireland in 1690. In 1690 there was the Battle of the Boyne, which ended with the victory of the Protestants of Northern Ireland with the help of King William. After this battle the catholic Irish lost their civil and political rights.
THE TROUBLES IN BREVE
In the XVIII century Wolfe Tone, an aristocratic and rich protestant, understood that the English were using the roman technique of “divide and rule”, moreover he was impressed by the American and French revolutions. He created an organisation called “United Irishmen” and in 1798 a rebellion broke out in Dublin against English oppression, but it was crushed. Wolfe Tone can be considered the father of Irish Republicanism.
In 1916 the IRA (Irish Republican Army) was created and at Easter a rebellion broke out in Dublin.
It is important to underline that they were in the middle of the First World War and there was a consequent reduction of the British presence in Ireland, so the Irish decided to seize the moment.
After two weeks the rebellion was suppressed and sixteen rebels were executed. A lot of Irish people heard this news and they became supporters of the IRA, going on struggling against British soldiers. It was a terrible war, with atrocities and terrorism on both sides.
The Irish war of independence lasted till 1922, when Irish independence was recognized. Ireland was the first country of the British Empire to obtain independence. However, not everybody wanted independence, for example Protestants in the North of Ireland wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom, they had helped Britain during the war and now they reclaimed the help of England.
At that time the Irish population was composed of five million people and only one million were protestant (20%). The English supported them and the English government decided that Ulster had to remain in the UK, while the other three countries (Connaught, Leinster and Munster) could obtain independence. Ireland was divided in 32 counties, in Ulster there were 9 counties and the British government proposed that 3 counties, where the majority of people was catholic, would have become part of Eire, while the other 6 counties would have remained part of the UK.
CONFLITTO NORDIRLANDESE: RIASSUNTO
As a result in Ulster Protestants would have been 60% and Catholics the 30%.
Not all the Irish wanted to accept this proposal. Michael Collins, the intelligence of the IRA during the war of independence, went to London to sign the proposal, showing his face for the first time. He supported this proposal on the basis that it was better than nothing and that it was a provisory solution. When he signed he said: “I have just signed my own death order”:
The proposal was accepted and the State of Northern Ireland was created. There were two committees: Catholics (Nationalists) and Protestants (Loyalists or Unionists).
In 1922 Catholics were the 33% and Protestants the 63%, in 1961 they were 35% and 62%, in 1991 42% and 58%, in 2001 44% and 53%. Catholics produced more children and they were growing in number.
There was a Parliament in Belfast, called Stormont. The catholic representation was the 17%. The problem was the way in which elections were organised. Ulster was divided into electoral zones and one representative for each zone was elected, but the Protestants had more zones. This system was called “Gerrymandering”. As a consequence the Catholics had no political power.
THE IRISH TROUBLES SUMMARY
There was a lot of discrimination, the 40% of Catholics had no job, and there was a lot of migration, towards the USA and England.
In 1968 and 1969 catholic people protested, they asked for job, houses and political pair power.
There were hard struggles with the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary), a protestant police force.
In 1969 the situation was out of control, civil war had broken out.